Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Voice Wraps Up Battle Rounds

I was so busy with Idol last week that I didn't get a chance to recap last week's The Voice. It's just as well, since it was easily the worst episode of the season so far. This week's show wasn't much better, with just one group doing anything compelling. Of course, that was Team Adam. Adam could probably take his rejects as a separate team and contend with the others' A teams.

Adam Levine Battle #4: Jeff Jenkins vs. Casey Desmond - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John (Buy on iTunes)
Jeff has a really aw-shucks singing style and demeanor. I much preferred Casey's voice on this song over his twanginess, but you just knew based on prior screentime that Jeff was going to get this one, and Adam did indeed pick him, saying there was something "mind-blowing" about him.

Blake Shelton Battle #4: Xenia vs. Sara Oromchi - I'll Stand By You by The Pretenders (Buy on iTunes)
In the "Battle of the Shy Girls", does anyone really win? They were both shaky vocally, and they both seemed to retreat into their shells. Xenia didn't convey the proper emotion (she looked angry), and Sara projected more but was the pitchiest. As Christina said, Xenia has the more unique tone, but Sara was much more comfortable onstage. I think the stage issues can be fixed much easier than pitch issues, so it was no surprise that Blake picked Xenia.

Christina Aguilera Battle #4:
Cherie Oakley vs. Lily Elise - Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (Buy on iTunes)
Pitchy from the start and totally overbaked by both ladies, especially Lily, who was singing in a really affected manner. Cherie bailed on the high notes on her part in the bridge, while Lily hit hers, and high notes are Christina's first love, and Lily was given the last spot on Christina's team.

Cee Lo Green Battle #4: Emily Valentine vs. Curtis Grimes - Need You Now by Lady Antebellum (Buy on iTunes)
I wasn't fond of either of them, to be honest. Emily's vocals went off the rails a few more times than Curtis's did, and that most likely did her in, as Cee Lo picked Curtis. Good choice. Much was made over their kiss onstage, but, like I said during the Glee season finale, I'm not really sure what the big deal was. It's just a kiss. Not that it really meant much in the long run. After seeing a news report on those two on my local news station, it sounds like they are already done-zo, even though she broke up with her boyfriend for him. Oops!

So the Battle Rounds are finally done, and we go to the live shows next. Thank goodness. I've about had it with people having to sing stuff ill-suited to their voices (thanks, BLAKE!) and having to shoehorn duets into the mix. The real competition begins next week. Let's get ready to vilify America for bad choices instead of the judges!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Video Of The Day: Kris Allen "God Bless The USA"

Kris Allen sang at PBS's National Memorial Day Concert in Washington D.C. on Sunday, covering Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA". As much as I want to hate on this song, I just can't, especially when done as sincerely as this. Kris sang this for the troops and went through the audience hugging and shaking hands with servicemen and women. It was a moving performance that earned him a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

Happy Memorial Day!



(Video from MJ's Big Blog)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Video Of The Day: Andrew Allen "Sooner"

Canadian singer-songwriter Andrew Allen opened for The Script at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Friday. I loved his set. He was very engaging and funny, and I enjoyed his songs. He reminds me of Jason Mraz a bit.

This song - "Sooner" - was written at the request of a 50 year-old man for his 60 year-old wife, who he had just married about five years ago. Since he didn't know the woman, the man sent Andrew a 10-page email describing her. At the end of the email, he wrote that the only thing he wished he could change about their relationship is that they had met sooner. This song will be on his album, which will be coming out in June.

Friday, May 27, 2011

SYTYCD8 Auditions - Atlanta, Bay Area

The confetti from American Idol has barely been digested by Scotty McCreery and we've already moved on to Nigel Lythgoe's other (and often times way more superior) talent show, So You Think You Can Dance. Auditions in Atlanta and the Bay Area kicked off Season 8.

First up was Latin dancer Bianca Hinklerian , who was auditioning with her non-auditioning partner Giovanni, who I guess is too young to try out. I could not take my eyes off him. He's such a dynamic dancer. I'd take him over her in a heartbeat. But she was good as well and was sent through to choreography, where she earned her ticket to Vegas.

Ginnifer Goodwin look-alike and contemporary dancer Melanie Moore has incredible control of her body in addition to insane flexibility and beautiful lines. She's amazing! The audience and judges loved her, and she was given a ticket to Vegas.

Deon Lewsa Jr. & Damon Bellmon are basically there at the auditions for the ladies. Or so we thought. I was certain they would be a joke audition, but they can move, and they're hilarious! That's entertainment! I love these guys! Deon got a ticket straight to Vegas, and the judges faked Damon into thinking he was done before also giving him a ticket.

Marko Germar was shot by a robber and still has parts of the bullet in his shoulder. He auditioned to James Morrison's "If You Don't Love Me" and did a bunch of back-handsprings and interesting aerial moves. The judges enjoyed his audition but sent him to choreography, where he got his ticket to Vegas.

Kimalee Piedad danced to Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" and did a lot of stunts with her non-competing partner. I'm not sure how this is going to work once the format of the show kicks in, but the judges sent her through to Vegas.

John "White Chocolate" Palermo danced like he was in the 5th grade talent show. He didn't get the Vegas ticket, but he got hugs from the judges, so at least he didn't go away empty-handed

Kyre'e Batiste's grandmother, Miss Mandy, is a dancer, and Nigel asked her to join the judges' panel before he danced. She actually gave him an honest critique and said he did well but didn't use his eyes in the right places sometimes. OMG SIGN HER UP TO JUDGE IDOL. Lil C disagreed with her and made a comment about how grandmas have long belts, so she took off hers and spanked him. LMAO. He got a yes to choreography from Lil C and his grandmother, but in choreography he was cut.

In the Bay Area (auditions were in Oakland, not San Francisco, Cat!), Amber Williams wowed the crowd and judges. She has great extension and moves very quickly and aggressively. Nigel used the word zany. That's about right! She's a spaz and is totally going to annoy me this season, isn't she? Immediate ticket to Vegas.

Timothy Joseph is a daredevil tumbler/b-boy and did all kinds of tricks. I was of the same opinion as Toni Redpath, who thought it was all tricks and not much dancing. I didn't see any musicality at all. But she was overruled, and Timothy was sent to choreography, but he had to drop out because he hurt himself earlier and didn't want to hinder any of the females he'd possibly be dancing with.

Everything about former stripper Ieshia Moss is tragic. Her makeup, her wig, her missing teeth, her clothes. And her booty-popping start-from-scratch choreography. I can't. Marcos Prieto probably borrowed some of Ieshia's moves. That was a grande cup of not-so-good, as Tyce Diorio said. And Paul Keelan probably borrowed some of Ieshia's drugs with his audition. NO.

You knew Danielle Ihle was going to be good when they showed her talking about being homeless and fatherless. I thought she was just ok. The judges liked her pirouettes but thought she was lacking in emotion. Tyce said no to choreography, but she got yes votes from Nigel and Toni and earned her Vegas ticket then.

Ashley Rich moves beautifully and was such a contrast to the last girl. She's radiant! Nigel faked everyone out by asking if it was a yes to choreography but then disagreeing and giving her a ticket to Vegas.

D'on-que Addison had a sob story to tell, and he did it on stage (I guess?). Tyce gave him such a bitch-please look while he was dancing, and when the music stopped and he stopped dancing D'on-que broke down in hysterical ~sobbing. Uh ... yeah. NO.

Like Timothy earlier, Jeffery McCann does a lot of tricks, but Jeffery is actually dancing and showing musicality. He's great and was quick to get an immediate ticket to Vegas.

Ryan Ramirez is back after just missing out last year. She said she's found herself more as a dancer. Toni said she had controlled abandon. Tyce said she's improved, and all three said yes to choreography. Or so they thought. Another fakeout by Nigel - he gave her a Vegas ticket.

Whitney Bezzant and Lilly Nguyen were shown briefly getting a ticket to Vegas. Lilly showed both a contemporary style AND break-dancing in her audition. Pretty awesome!

Oakland-based TURF (Taking Up Room on the Floor)-dancing got its time in the spotlight by Levi "I Dummy" Allen, who was gliding and contorting all over the place. It was pretty rad. He got a yes to choreography, but Nigel already seems to have a pre-conceived notion that he won't do well. Aaaand I see why. He was pretty terrible there, so he got sent home.

Early favorites for me so far: Melanie Moore, Ashley Rich, Deon & Damon, and Miss Mandy :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inside The AI10 Finale

Some tidbits from inside the Nokia Theater during the American Idol 10 finale, where Scotty McCreery was crowned the American Idol:

The audience was pretty dead for the opening number (Top 13 singing Born This Way). Everyone was seated for the entire song, and when they went to commercial, warm-up guy Cory had to get on the mic and tell everyone to stand up and party during the musical numbers. Everyone stood for every performance after that, including Beyonce's snoozer of a single (she sounded amazing but that song is boring!).

After James Durbin's performance with Judas Priest, he kept raising his arms to get the crowd to either stand (we already were) or cheer louder. He also cupped his hand to his ear to mime that he couldn't hear us. At that point, I stopped clapping and folded my arms across my chest and glared at him. Too bad I was too far away for him to see me do that.

As you saw, Lauren Alaina did not participate in the girls' Beyonce medley. It appeared as if she was pulled late because there was a noticeable empty space in the formation during one of the songs.

The judges stood up for just about every performance ..... except, notably, the Beyonce medley. Jealous much, JLo? That medley was one of the top performances of the night, in my opinion. All of the girls sounded great.

I could barely hear Haley Reinhart during her duet with Tony Bennett - and when I could hear her, she sounded very Betty Boop-ish. On TV, she sounded great.

The boys' Tom Jones medley was a riot during "It's Not Unsual". Jacob Lusk did the best Carlton dance by a mile. James and Stefano put their all into it as well. Paul McDonald was just swinging his arms like a pendulum. Scotty looked a bit lost as well. I wish they had gotten Alfonso Ribeiro to come out and dance, though.

Crowd response for the Lady Gaga performance was a bit tame. Perhaps being perched hundreds of feet above the stage in dark lighting gave it a huge disconnect.

Before the Spider-Man performance, we were all warned very sternly to stay out of the aisles during the performance. I could see two Spidermen up above before the performance - one on the left and one on the right. I didn't see the one come down above the judges' table until it happened.

As Scotty began his coronation song (which he barely sang any lines of ... mercifully), he handed James his trophy, and James pretended to steal it as his before setting it down on the floor.

Some of the luminaries were given a shout-out to the audience during commercial breaks by Cory: David Cook, Adam Lambert, Lee DeWyze, Gordon Ramsey, Mary Murphy, Laurieann Gibson

Adam Lambert literally walked into the theater at the 59th minute. David Cook arrived inside about two minutes prior.

Adam and his boyfriend Sauli sat directly in front of Kris Allen and his wife Katy. During almost every commercial break, Adam turned in his seat to talk to Kris and Katy. When they weren't getting bombarded by photo requests from kids, other former Idols, and Michael Orland, that is. Kris took Michael's photo with Adam.

Later in the show, Blake Lewis grabbed Allison Iraheta from further back and brought her up to a seat with him near the front row. Later on, Adam went over to greet her and picked her up into a big hug. Blake was quite the social butterfly, getting up at just about every break to talk to different people.

As I was leaving my seat to exit the theater, I saw a ripped-up Lauren sign on the floor. LOL someone was pissed. I hope they made a You Tube video of their reaction like this infamous one.

Video Of The Day: Jimmy Kimmel, Boyz II Men Say Goodbye To Oprah

Jimmy Kimmel teamed up with Boyz II Men for a goodbye tribute to Oprah Winfrey, parodying their song "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday". If you're familiar with the original music video, you'll pretty much die laughing at the outfits (Dwayne Wayne glasses!). They also make fun of Oprah's car giveaways and her fluctuating weight.

AI10 Post-Show Finale Photos

These photos of the American Idol 10 finalists are from the post-show press area after both finale nights. All of the finalists came out to talk to press and meet the fans. Except for Haley Reinhart on Tuesday. I suspect she may have been rehearsing. But the others all made their way out there. Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina were shuttled in and out of there very quickly on Tuesday and didn't have any time to talk to fans, but the others were very gracious with their time and posed for photos, signed whatever was handed to them (including a Starbucks cup and a notepad that looked like it came from a random real estate agent).

Everyone was super nice (shoutout to Karen Rodriguez for being extra sweet and Jacob Lusk for being extra friendly) and attentive even when it turned into a chorus of screaming banshees.

A couple of photos:











Full album here, slideshow below.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Idol Alumni Perform At Pre-Show AT&T Idol Celebration

Several former Idol finalists performed at the Pre-Show AT&T Idol Celebration in front of the Nokia Theatre on Tuesday before the final performance show. Amongst the performers were Diana DeGarmo, Kimberly Caldwell, Blake Lewis, Michael Johns, and Jason Castro, all of whom sang 2-3 songs.

I came over in the middle of Diana's set and heard her singing "Backwoods Barbie" by Dolly Parton. One of Kimberly's songs was "Come To My Window". Michael Johns did "Heart on My Sleeve", "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (a cappella) and "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions". Jason Castro did "You Are" and "Hallelujah".

Michael Johns - I've Been Loving You Too Long



Michael Johns - We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions



Jason Castro - Hallelujah



In addition, a gathering of other former Idols were on hand for autographs and an AT&T money giveaway. In attendance for that were Nikki McKibbin (S1), Kimberley Locke (S2), Kimberly Caldwell (S2), Elliott Yamin (S5), Ace Young (S5), Blake Lewis (S6), Lakisha Jones (S6), Michael Sarver (S8), Scott MacIntyre (S8) Didi Benami (S9), Paige Miles (S9), Tim Urban (S9), Andrew Garcia (S9) and, oddly, the Brittenum Twins from S5 (I don't think they were originally in the program - they were kind of hanging out on the other side of the barricade earlier).

Photo album

Slideshow:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Simon Fuller Receives Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

American Idol co-creator Simon Fuller received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday. Attending the ceremony outside the W Hotel were the American Idol Season 10 Top 13; former Idol winners Carrie Underwood, David Cook and Kris Allen; Idol host Ryan Seacrest, Idol judges Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez; Lopez's husband Marc Anthony; So You Think You Can Dance judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy; and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.

Before the ceremony started, the current season's Top 13 came out to take photos and sign autographs with the fans. Carrie, David and Kris also did this afterwards. Carrie is a huge superstar but is still very down-to-earth, from what I saw. David and Kris are as well. They are so very comfortable greeting the fans. Ryan Seacrest is also very nice. He came over to the crowd to say hello, and he asked me what my name was and then repeated it when he said it was nice to meet me. He's so Hollywood, but he's also still a polite Southern boy at the core.

Here's a slideshow of photos I took at the event, as well as a link to the photo album:



Additionally, here are two more photos I took via cellphone:



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lady Gaga Album Practically Free At Amazon Through Monday

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" CD is practically being given away at Amazon mp3s. Through Monday, it is on sale for just 99 cents. That's like the price of one song. So if you like "Edge of Glory" you may as well download the whole album. It'll cost you just as much.

Link to buy: Amazon.com

Methinks Gaga's sales are going to go through the roof. She's coming off a big appearance on Saturday Night Live, and she's already on her third single, plus millions of people have familiarity with a fourth song on the album, "You and I", thanks to American Idol.

I'm not a Gaga fan by any means, but for 99 cents, I'll definitely give it a try.

Video Of The Day: Sugarland, Matt Nathanson, Little Big Town Cover It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Since you are reading this, you know that the end of the world did not, in fact, happen on May 21, 2011. But before the day ended yesterday, Sugarland, Matt Nathanson, and Little Big Town celebrated the possibility by singing R.E.M.'s "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" to close their concert in Holmdel, NJ.

I'm more than impressed that Matt got these lyrics down. This song is nearly impossible to sing, even with the words on display at karaoke.



(video from Sugarland)

Scotty vs. Lauren - Week To Week

The two country kids are facing off in the American Idol finale. It's 17 year-old Scotty McCreery, who has never been in the bottom 3, vs. 16 year-old Lauren Alaina, who has only been in the bottom 3 once. Deep voice vs. big soaring voice. Boy vs. Girl. Who will win?

Let's take a look at how they stacked up against each other each week.

Semifinals
Scotty - "Letters From Home" by John Michael Montgomery, Lauren - "Turn On The Radio" by Reba McEntire
I had Scotty winning the night (tied with James) in the guys' semifinal, and I had Lauren coming in second only behind Pia Toscano in the girls' semifinal. Side-by-side, I think Lauren's fun, comfortable performance and effortless vocals was stronger than Scotty's
Round 1 - Lauren

Top 13
Scotty - "The River" by Garth Brooks, Lauren - Lauren Alaina - "Any Man Of Mine" by Shania Twain
Scotty gave one of the top 2 performances of the night here, and the crowd responded in a big way during his song. While I appreciated Lauren not picking a ballad, she picked a total karaoke song and gave Steven Tyler some bitchface when he didn't fawn over her like he had all year.
Round 2 - Scotty

Top 12
Scotty - "Can I Trust You With My Heart" by Travis Tritt, Lauren - "I'm The Only One" by Melissa Etheridge
By this point, Scotty's performances were becoming a bit one-trick. This song sounded pretty similar to the other ones he had done in the previous rounds. He sang it well, but it was same ol' same ol'. Lauren gave one of the few up-tempo performances that night, and she was one of the best that week as well.
Round 3 - Lauren

Top 11
Scotty - "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder, Lauren - "You Keep Me Hanging On" by The Supremes
I give Scotty props for taking a chance and changing the arrangement to suit him. However, I still have no desire to hear a countrified "For Once In My Life" ever again. Lauren was in the Top 3 for me that night.
Round 4 - Lauren

Top 11 Redux
Scotty - "Country Comfort" by Elton John, Lauren - "Candle In The Wind" by Elton John
I gave Scotty this round mostly because I felt a disconnect with Lauren in regards to the lyrics. Her smiling during this song was all kinds of wrong. Looking back on it now, I think I way underscored Lauren, but I still give this round to Scotty. I thought was going to have a hard time with this theme, but he found the one song that suited him and performed it with ease.
Round 5 - Scotty

Top 9
Scotty - "That's Alright" by Elvis Presley, Lauren - "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
They both did well this week. Scotty showed off a natural charm in a departure from the country crooning he had been doing for weeks. Lauren sounded really good, although I felt she was holding back a bit (an ongoing theme for her).
Round 6 - Lauren

Top 8
Scotty - "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait, Lauren - "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus
Not only was Lauren's the best performance of the night, it was one of her best all season. I actually ranked Scotty second best that night but I couldn't remember his when I did a late recap. Oops.
Round 7 - Lauren

Top 7
Scotty - "Swingin'" by LeAnn Rimes, Lauren - "Born To Fly" by Sara Evans
I thought both of them were quite underwhelming. Lauren hit the right notes but was pretty dull. Scotty had a horrendous song choice, particularly on a week in which the contestants were supposed to show their contemporary side.
Round 8 - Lauren

Top 6
Scotty - "You've Got A Friend" by Carole King, Lauren - "Where You Lead" by Carole King
This was Scotty's moment on the show and one of the Top 5 performances by anyone all season.
Round 9 - Scotty

Top 5
Scotty - "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry and "Always On My Mind" by Elvis Presley; Lauren - "Flat On The Floor" by Carrie Underwood and "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers
Scotty's first song was fun, albeit a little corny. His second song was a little sleepy and too soon after his previous week's "You've Got A Friend." Lauren's first song was strictly Carrie-Okie, and her second was even more sleepy than Scotty's second and also aggravating because she kept holding back on the big notes.
Round 10 - Scotty

Top 4
Scotty - "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson and "Young Blood" by The Coasters; Lauren - "Anyway" by Martina McBride and "Trouble" by Elvis Presley
Lauren gave two good performances, particularly with "Anyway", and Scotty gave one really bad one ("Young Blood") that was almost like watching a bad audition. I still can't get over those faces he was pulling.
Round 11 - Lauren

Top 3
Scotty - "Amazed" by Lonestar, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" by Thompson Square, "She Believes In Me" by Kenny Rogers; Lauren - "Wild One" by Faith Hill, "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry, "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack
Both first performances were their worst, both second ones were their best, and Lauren edged out Scotty on her third song.
Round 12 - Lauren

By my count, Lauren wins this one, 8-4. Unfortunately for her, this may not help her (it didn't help Crystal Bowersox, who not only had the best overall run during her season but also in the finale last year), but if Lauren can create a moment or two at the finale (tears may help also), she might have a chance.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Idol Is Country Strong

Not only is the title of American Idol going back to the South, but it's going to go to a country singer in Season 10 after Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina were voted into the finale.

Haley Reinhart's impressive closing run came to an end, and boy, was that moment awkward. Lauren was announced as going through, and she started jumping up and down celebrating while Haley stood there looking PISSED. Usually the hugs come immediately, but this was not the case here, on either end. And when they did hug, Haley just gave her a one-armed hug that looked so forced. Haley did recover quickly from the bad news, however, and delivered a fun farewell performance of Bennie & the Jets.

Haley's swan song was the best performance of the night, by a mile. Instead of getting a group song, we had to endure guest performances by Baby Il Divo (or Il Volo, as they are called) and (X-Factor Host) Nicole Scherzinger. The hometown visits were great, with highlights coming from Haley's big, burly crying bodyguard; Josh Turner, who surprised Scotty McCreery on stage; and Lauren Alaina's visit to tornado victims.

Looking back on Haley's video, I suppose I could have spotted a few clues that she was the one going home. The president or whatever of Wheeling proclaimed it "Haley RAIN-hart Day". And the editors played a (semi-) country song (Lady Antebellum's "Hello World") over the ending. Clearly, this is the year of the country music on this show.

Next week's finale will be two high school country kids going up against each other. While non-country fans will hate this, I kind of feel like country music deserves to have this spotlight on the show since it's the only genre who has fully embraced Idol singers.

I've felt like Scotty has had this in the bag since the semifinals, but Lauren has the potential to provide a really big moment. Not that easily winning the night helped Crystal Bowersox last year ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AI10 Top 3 Battle (Weakly) For Finale Spot

Between a fall on stage, a missed line, a wardrobe malfunction, fumbled lyrics and pitchiness, none of the Top 3 on American Idol gave a knockout performance, which could make tomorrow a pretty unpredictable result show. All three contestants were declared the winner of at least one round by the judges, and this could turn into one of the tightest contests since Season 5.

My thoughts coming in were that the country vote would be split between Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, which could help send Haley Reinhart to the finals, but there's also a possibility that without the harsh comments from the judges, Haley won't have as motivated of a fanbase as in previous weeks, which could hurt her. Reverse psychology from Randy Jackson, perhaps? Hmm ... how very Cowell-ian of him if this is the case.

Contestant's Choice:
Scott McCreery - Amazed by Lonestar
I thought it was a little pitchy, and nothing new was done to this song other than Scotty actually showing a glory note. Underwhelmed, to be honest.

Lauren Alaina - Wild One by Faith Hill
Beyonce said that she enjoys Lauren best when she sings something fun. I totally agree. I think Lauren started to lose steam when she started singing more ballads (although I may change my opinion on this later ... like the next song). The feel of the song was good, but I still feel like Lauren is performing with a wall up. And let's not even talk about that tragic hot mess of an outfit!

Haley Reinhart - What Is And What Should Never Be by Led Zepplin
This is easily the most inspired (and difficult) song choice amongst the three. And how great is it that she got her dad to play on it with her?! But what everyone's going to remember about this performance is that she slipped and fell and got right back up and kept singing. This kind of thing I think is going to endear her to the voters. As for her performance (sans fall), she definitely won this round, as the judges claimed.

Jimmy Iovine's Choice (aka the best round of the night):
Scotty McCreery - Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not by Thompson Square
Jimmy Iovine proved to be the most useful of the grown-ups, if you will, picking some great songs for the Top 3 to sing. Here, Scotty was able to show that he can indeed sing a current hit song well. This was one of his better performances of the season, although not in Garth Brooks territory, RANDY. Plus, his faces and stance were a bit awkward-sauce.

Lauren Alaina - If I Die Young by The Band Perry
I LOVE this song! Jimmy again choose so well. The opening verse gave Lauren an opportunity to showcase her pretty tone, and the ending of the song gave her the chance to hit the money notes. Unfortunately, at that point, she missed a line at the key/tempo change, and her vocals went off the rails a bit (which Jennifer Lopez excused as being an "honest moment"). It's too bad because that was such a lovely performance up until then.

Haley Reinhart - Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
I loved the opening! So beautiful. However, I didn't like it as much when it went more up-tempo, although I did love the runs she did while singing the chorus. It was staged well also with the wind machine and fog and her dress blowing in the wind.

Judges' Choice:
Scotty McCreery - She Believes In Me by Kenny Rogers
This was akin to the judges picking a Dan Fogelberg song for David Archuleta. I was really dreading this song, but Scotty made it work. The strings were a great touch.

Lauren Alaina - I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack
We're back to pageant mode for Lauren. She did show a little more passion later in the song than she has in past performances (I didn't like that in this song, though), but it's still very pageanty.

Haley Reinhart - You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette
OOF. That was not pretty. She was pitchy, her lower register was weak, she fumbled the words, the verses were lethargic. She recovered towards the end of the song and totally wailed on the chorus, but this was not a good performance for her. Yet Steven called it perfect. He's perfectly useless.

I'm going to predict a Scotty-Haley finale. Haley has the momentum and uniqueness between the three contestants, and I think the country vote will be split. Between Scotty and Lauren, Scotty seems to have the bigger fanbase. But who really knows?

Songs By Idol Alums Honored At 2011 BMI Pop Awards

A smattering of songs by American Idol alums were honored at the 2011 BMI Pop Music Awards Tuesday night. Season 8 finalists Kris Allen ("Live Like We're Dying") and Adam Lambert ("Whataya Want From Me") recorded songs that were honored as award-winning songs. Season 6 semifinalist Jared Cotter co-wrote two of Jay Sean's honored songs ("Do You Remember" and "Down"). Season 5 finalist Chris Daughtry co-wrote and recorded with his band Daughtry "Life After You". And former Idol judge Kara DioGuardi co-wrote award-winning songs by Cobra Starship ("Good Girls Go Bad") and Colbie Caillat ("I Never Told You").

I suppose I can also point out that Idol S10 regular will.i.am and producer Rodney Jerkins also won awards. I could also point out that it took seven people to write crappy songs like "Meet Me Halfway" and "Imma Be".  Just sayin'.

2011 BMI Pop Music Awards
BMI Icon - David Foster
Pop Songwriters of the Year - Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga, JR Rotem
Pop Song of the Year - "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum (written by Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley)
Pop Publisher of the Year - Sony/ATV Songs LLC

2011 BMI Pop Music Awards Award-Winning Songs
"3" by Britney Spears (written by Johan "Shellback" Schuster
"According To You" by Orianthi (written by Andrew Frampton)
"Airplanes" by B.O.B. featuring Hayley Williams (written by Alex Da Kid, B.O.B.)
"Alejandro" by Lady Gaga (written by Lady Gaga, RedOne)
"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga (written by Lady Gaga, RedOne)
"Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris (written by Fraser T. Smith)
"Breakeven" by The Script (written by Andrew Frampton, Daniel O'Donoghue, Mark Sheehan)
"Bulletproof" by La Roux (written by Elly Jackson, Ben Langmaid)
"California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg (written by Calvin "Snoop Dogg" Broadus, Benjamin "Benny Blanco" Levin, Mike Love, Bonnie McKee, Brian Wilson)
"Carry Out" by Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake (written by Jerome Harmon)
"Closer To Love" by Mat Kearney (written by Josiah Bell, Mat Kearney, Robert Marvin)
"Do You Remember" by Jay Sean featuring Sean Paul & Lil Jon (written by Jared Cotter, Tawanna "Frankie Storm" Dabney, Lil Jon, Jay Sean)
"Down" by Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne (written by Jared Cotter, Lil Wayne, Jay Sean)
"Dynamite" by Taio Cruz (written by Benjamin "Benny Blanco" Levin, Bonnie McKee)
"Fallin' For You" by Colbie Caillat (written by Colbie Caillat)
"Good Girls Go Bad" by Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester (written by Kara DioGuardi, Kevin Rudolf)
"Halfway Gone" by Lifehouse (written by Jude Cole, Kevin Rudolf, Jason Wade)
"Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble (written by Alan Chang, Amy Foster)
"Hey Soul Sister" by Train (written by Amund Bjorklund, Espen Lind)
"I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas (written by apl.de.ap, Taboo, will.i.am)
"I Never Told You" by Colbie Caillat (written by Kara DioGuardi, Colbie Caillat)
"If You Only Knew" by Shinedown (written by Brent Smith)
"Imma Be" by Black Eyed Peas (written by apl.de.ap, Thomas Brenneck, Michael Deller, Daniel Foder, Taboo, Jared Tankel, will.i.am)
"In My Head" by Jason Derulo (written by Jason Derulo, Claude Kelly, JR Rotem)
"Life After You" by Daughtry (written by Chris Daughtry, Chad Kroeger, Joey Moi)
"Live Like We're Dying" by Kris Allen (written by Andrew Frampton,
Daniel O'Donoghue, Mark Sheehan)
"Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna (written by Alex Da Kid, Eminem, Skylar Grey)
"Meet Me Halfway" by Black Eyed Peas (written by apl.de.ap, Printz Board, Brian Chase, Karen O, Taboo, will.i.am, Nick Zinner)
"Misery" by Maroon 5 (written by Jesse Carmichael, Adam Levine, Mickey Madden)
"Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum (written by Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley)
"Never Gonna Be Alone" by Nickelback (written by Chad Kroeger)
"Never Say Never" by The Fray (written by David Welsh)
"New Divide" by Linkin Park (written by Chester Bennington, Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, Dave Farrell, Joe Hahn, Mike Shinoda)
"Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga (written by Lady Gaga)
"Party In The USA" by Miley Cyrus (written by Claude Kelly)
"Replay" by Iyaz (written by Jason DerĂ¼lo, Iyaz, JR Rotem)
"Ridin' Solo" by Jason Derulo (written by Jason Derulo, JR Rotem)
"Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti and Spearhead featuring Cherine Anderson (written by Carl Young)
"Sexy Chick" by David Guetta featuring Akon (written by Giorgio Tuinfort)
"Smile" by Uncle Cracker (written by Blair Daly, JT Harding, Uncle Kracker)
"Someday" by Rob Thomas (written by Shy Carter)
"Sweet Dreams" by Beyonce (written by Jim Jonsin, Wayne Wilkins)
"Telephone" by Lady Gaga (written by Rodney Jerkins, Lady Gaga)
"This Afternoon" by Nickelback (written by Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake)
"Tik Tok" by Ke$ha (written by Ke$ha, Benjamin "Benny Blanco" Levin)
"Two Is Better Than One" by Boys Like Girls featuring Taylor Swift (written by Taylor Swift)
"Whataya Want From Me" by Adam Lambert (written by P!nk, Johan "Shellback" Schuster)
"Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo (written by Jason Derulo, JR Rotem)
"You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift (written by Liz Rose, Taylor Swift)
"Your Love Is My Drug" by Ke$ha (written by Ke$ha, Pebe Sebert)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Voice Gets Back To Its Roots

After last week's episode of The Voice, I was starting to think that this show was going downhill fast, with the judges picking singers more for commercial reasons than for vocal reasons. This week, it's back to the premise of the whole show, with all four advancing singers being chosen for vocals. Hurray!


Cee Lo Battle #2: Tje Austin vs. Nakia - Closer by Ne-Yo (Buy on iTunes)
If this was last week, the much more marketable Tje would be a no-brainer, but this week seems to be more about picking a voice, and Nakia had a bit of a more interesting and unique take on the song than Tje, although I also love what he did with the song. And, as Monica said, his voice is more melodic. I would have personally picked Tje, but Cee Lo chose Nakia.

Blake Battle #2: Elenowen vs. Jared Blake - Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye (Buy on iTunes)
What a terrible song choice for a rock singer and a folksy duo. Also, it's not really a fair battle when you've got 1 vs. 2 on a duet, but Jared won all of the judges over. I thought they all sounded oh so karaoke, and I wish Blake could have dumped them both and taken Adam Levine's reject from this week, but the show doesn't work that way, and Blake picked Jared.

Adam Battle #2: Javier Colon vs. Angela Wolff - Stand By Me by Ben E. King (Buy on iTunes)
WHY YOU DO DIS, ADAM?! These two voices are probably my two favorites. Javier is clearly the best singer in this competition, and I think Angela knew she was toast as soon as she got paired with him. She had a great attitude about it, though, and gave a good performance herself, but no one on this show could have topped Javier here.

Christina Battle #2: Beverly McClellan vs. Justin Grennan - Baba O'Riley by The Who (Buy on iTunes)
I didn't really enjoy that as much as the judges did. I found it to be shouty, but if I had to pick, I'd go with Beverly, and that's who Christina chose.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Video Of The Day: Sara Bareilles City

Sara Bareilles' Live at the Fillmore from 2008 was playing on Palladia yesterday. One of many standout performances from this show was "City". Somehow, this song has escaped me till now (IDEK), but it's gorgeous!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon Show Off Their Dance Moves

Oscar-winners Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon each made appearances at Prince's concert on Saturday night, with Halle being brought on stage from the VIP section during "Cool", and Susan joining the big dance party during the last encore. Also joining the dance party were Craig Robinson (Darryl from The Office) and singer Chante Moore, who got on the mic to sing towards the end.

Here's Halle:



And here's Susan/Craig/Chante:



If you're having trouble spotting her, Susan comes in from the right side around the 23 second mark. The action really heats up around the 7 minute mark - Chante starts singing, Craig starts dancing all up in Susan. Fun times!

Video Of The Day: Kings Of Leon Back Down South

VH1 Storytellers with Kings of Leon debuted this weekend. One of my favorites from the broadcast was "Back Down South", the latest single from their latest album, Come Around Sundown.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Video Of The Day: Lady Antebellum Goes Reggae

Country met reggae on Thursday night at the CMT Disaster Relief Concert when Lady Antebellum sang a medley of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds", their "I Run To You", and Bob Marley's "One Love". It sounds wacky, but it totally works.



To watch more performances from the concert, visit CMT.com. And to donate to the American Red Cross for disaster relief, go to american.redcross.org.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Backlash Boot Strikes Again On Idol

Someday the judges and producers on American Idol will learn to not try to force their desired result on America. Because America always fights back. And they fought back in a big way this week, saving Idol punching bag Haley Reinhart and eliminating the guy Randy Jackson proclaimed as the winner about two weeks ago, James Durbin.

James went out in the Chris Daughtry/Tamyra Gray shock boot spot (No. 4) and turned into a blubbering mess, with tears streaming down his face during his sing-out. But before the sing-out, he lost a good deal of sympathy from me by proclaiming that he did stuff no one else ever did on the show (lol tell Adam Lambert that). Because see ... it's stuff like this that never got me fully on board with him. He always seemed just a bit too full of himself for me to care. He was a good performer, sure, but I always felt like he masked a lot of flaws with pyro and staging and lighting. Not to mention the fact that he skated by with little to no criticism from the judges. I know that's not his fault, but when the judges go off the deep end like they did this season, I am in no mood to let them have what they want.

Haley being safe wasn't really that big of a surprise for me. I had a feeling that the judges' comments would totally rile up the fan base and keep her safe, much like how Simon Cowell's comments during the Kris Allen/Danny Gokey duet of death (that wasn't supposed to be judged!) riled up Kris's fanbase (and Kris). Plus, she killed it on her last song. And she's the one singer who has provided the most "moments" this season. The one I thought would be most in danger was Lauren Alaina, so when she was the first to be sent to safety, I knew James was toast because it would be much more dramatic to have Lauren/Haley as the last two standing if it was one of them going.

In between all this drama were contestant duets, a bunch of videos, one live performance and one pre-taped live performance. Scotty and James sang "Start A Band", which should have been the first sign that James was outie. The country song was tailor-made for Scotty and all kinds of wrong for James, whose lower register is pretty wretched. Haley and Lauren got Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead" and gave what I thought was the performance of the night (maybe tied with Jordin Sparks).

We watched the Idols watching a televised Lady Gaga concert performance, as well as Steven Tyler's new music video. Enrique Iglesias performed Dirty Dancer, which I think he lip-synched, and Baby I Like It, which I wish he had. And then Jordin Sparks showed off her new I'm-no-longer-17!!!!11-look and sound with her new booty-shaking single I Am Woman (you go, Jordin!). She needs to work on the stripping/coat-removing, though. It was a little too labored to be fully effective.

We also got this manufactured Survivor-moment that showed the Idols Skypeing with their loved ones via Windows 7. Uhh ... big whoop. A) This technology is not new. B) It's not like they're in a remote jungle location, separated from any contact with anyone but their tribe-mates and Jeff Probst. They see their families or friends at least once a week at the tapings. And Lauren and Scotty have a parent staying with them.

One other moment I forgot to mention ... during James' sing-out, he dissed not one, but two people! It was hilarious. Randy tried to fist-bump him as he walked past, and James either didn't see him or ignored him (I choose to believe the latter). And an audience member in the front row behind the judges had her hand up for a high-five only to see James leave her hanging. LOL OUCH.

So the Top 3 no one ever saw coming is Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart and Scotty McCreery. As I've said all season, I think Scotty is a lock not only to make the finals but to win. But I can see Haley making the finals as well, since Scotty and Lauren are likely splitting the teen and country music votes. And whichever one of these two does make the finale is going to win unless something completely scandalous happens because they'll get the lion's share of that other person's votes.

AI10 Top 4 - Judges Go Yakety Yak, So Haley Talks Back

The American Idol judges have been mostly useless this season, showering their favorites with superlatives and inane commentary like "He/she's IN IT TO WIN IT!" and "that was beautiful". But when it's come to Idol's whipping girl Haley Reinhart, she's had to come up with the best performances of the season to even get a second glance. After weeks of this shoddy treatment, Haley decided she'd had enough, talking back to the judge who has been riding her all season, Randy Jackson.

Whether or not that is going to hurt or help her remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure - fans of the show are getting very angry at the fact that the judges have no qualms of telling Haley her shortcomings while ignoring those of the others. And they're angry about things such as Randy saying that the first round went to James, Lauren and Scotty. Or, in other words, everyone but Haley. They're also getting angry at the blatant favoritism it is showing James, who, once again, closed the show (after also opening the show). And don't think I didn't notice the opening montage of subliminal messages that had the words "to send them HOME" over footage of Lauren and Haley, while James was shown with the words "as HEROES".

This is the kind of stuff shock boots are made of. Just saying.

James Durbin - Don't Stop Believing by Journey
Someone (coughNigelcough) leaked to E! yesterday that James was singing this song and that it was a "mind-blowing" version that will sound nothing like the Glee version and that he will make it is own. And then James went out there and ..... sang it like the original version. As Simon would say, "Whoopee."

Haley Reinhart - Earth Song by Michael Jackson
Haley's been getting the brunt of the criticism this year, mostly from Randy Jackson, and has had to sit and watch as others struggled but got either coddled or told it was "beautiful", and she's finally had it. When Randy told her that she was screaming and at the top of her range, she answered back that it wasn't at the top of her range. And then he continued his foolery by saying that she should have done runs and repeated AGAIN that she was screaming and that he didn't like it, and she SNAPPED, saying, "I know. I heard it. Do you have to repeat it again?" And I don't blame her. You want to talk screaming, let's talk James Durbin in half of his performances this year. Haley wasn't screaming. She was singing very gutturally, and it wasn't a good song choice for the competition, but she wasn't screaming.

Scotty McCreery - Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning by Alan Jackson
A song that talks about 9/11, with lyrics that name-check God AND Jesus? Score! (Do I think Scotty is that Machiavellian? No. But maybe he has a little Kristy Lee Cook in him.)

Lauren Alaina - Anyway by Martina McBride
The best thing about Lauren's dress is that it almost made James eat it when they walked out on stage at the open. Fashion aside, it was so nice to finally see Lauren go for the big notes. They weren't perfect (RANDY!), and she petered out a little bit at the end, but I think she finally broke through.

Haley Reinhart - I Who Have Nothing by Shirley Bassey
I thought this was risky, as this was a big moment for Jordin Sparks in Season 6, but Haley brought a more dramatic, more intense and a more modern interpretation to the song. It was a bit Gaga-esque, and the judges and audience ate it up. Her vocals were so spot-on. For the second week in a row, Haley delivered a moment, and she deserves to stay in the competition.

Scotty McCreery - Young Blood by The Coasters
I'm having Anthony Fedorov Love Potion No. 9 flashbacks. That is not a good thing. And those faces ................. CREEPY. And the judges just talked about how they loved the humor. I'm sorry, but this is not a comedy competition.

Lauren Alaina - Trouble by Elvis Presley
I am so not shocked that Lauren picked the song that Carrie Underwood did on Season 4's Lieber & Stoller night. It was a great pick for Carrie, and it was a great pick for Lauren, who brought together strong vocals and a strong performance (with her mom's clothes from the 80's). I still think she could have done a little bit more with it, but it was well done.

James Durbin - Love Potion No. 9 by The Clovers
Nigel and co. pulled a little switcheroo here and inexplicably switched up the second half order so that James could close the show after opening the show. ICU, pimp machine. Here's the thing - I was impressed with the hard rock arrangement, but I'm so put off by the machinations, the judges' revisionist history (he has not created a moment every single week ... hi, last week sucked!), James's overuse of pyro and guitar solos, the unnecessary and indulgent screaming, and his imploring the audience to get up or come on or whatever in the beginning or middle of every song, that I will giggle with glee if he gets the Daughtry shock boot.

I think Haley did enough in her last song to stay in, and I think the judges did enough to motivate the voters to vote harder for her, so I have a bad feeling it will be Lauren saying goodbye. I'm hoping for the James shock boot, but I'm not sure the signs are pointing to that just yet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Voice Battle Rounds Start To Abandon Show's Premise

Funny thing about The Voice ... the premise of the audition rounds revolves around the fact that the judges/mentors can't see the singers and are picking people based on their voice alone. However, in this round, the battle round, things other than their voices clearly played a role in the selections of a few of these singers, as some of the singers earned more praise than the ones actually selected.

Christina Battle #1: Terralyn Ramsey vs. Frenchie Davis (Single Ladies by Beyonce)
I can't believe someone out there actually out-diva'd Frenchie Davis on stage. She showed more diva-tude and diva notes than Frenchie, although there were times when she got into shrieky mode. Blake compared the battle to Rocky, with Rocky (Terralyn) coming in at the last minute with an upper-cut to Apollo (Frenchie). But Frenchie is the one getting a lot of the press, so of course Christina's going to pick Frenchie.

Blake Battle #1: Patrick Thomas vs. Tyler Robinson (Burning Love by Elvis Presley)
I thought both of them have kind of bland voices, and if I had to pick on voice, I guess I would choose Tyler (if I ignore the last part of the song where he turned into a hot mess). But if I had to pick based on what I'd rather see on stage, it would be Patrick. And for the second-straight performance, the person who got the most praise from the others didn't get picked. But really ... is it any surprise that the country star picked the country singer over the unmarketable non-genre singer?

Adam Battle #1: Casey Weston vs. Tim Mahoney (Leather & Lace by Stevie Nicks/Don Henley)
Casey has quite a bit of a goat vibrato, and Tim does have a high-pitched voice. I'm kind of in the Cee Lo camp in thinking that Tim has more distinct, unique vocals, but I'm not sure that it's the type of vocal that I would want to hear on a daily basis. Not that I want to hear Casey's vibrato a whole lot either. Adam's decision basically came down to cute girl who looks like a cross between Colbie Caillat and Vanessa Carlton in short, tight dress or guy who he thought was a girl and then got stuck with. No shock here that he picked Casey.

Cee Lo Battle #1: Vicci Martinez vs. Niki Dawson (Perfect by Pink)
I agree so much with Blake here - Cee Lo made a huge mistake in pairing these two. HUGE. It's absolutely criminal that one of them has to be cut. You can't go wrong either way, but Vicci has that special something in her voice that can't be denied, and she went through.

I thought the pacing of this week's show was painfully slow. Four performances in one hour? Zzzzzz. Hopefully they trim some of the mentoring sessions and give us more performances in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Video Of The Day: Nicole Scherzinger Sings I'll Never B Another Fool

Pussycat Doll lead singer (and soon-to-be X-Factor co-host) Nicole Scherzinger was a special guest at the Prince concert on Saturday, singing the Purple One's "I'll Never B Another Fool", which was made famous by Chaka Khan.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Video Of The Day: Kelly Clarkson Already Gone (Coca-Cola Anniversary)

Kelly Clarkson was the headline performer at the Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary concert in Atlanta on Saturday. She sang a 10-song set that was streamed live on the internet. One of her most recent hits, "Already Gone", got a beautiful, mostly-acoustic, treatment for this show. Check it out here:



(Video rip from aiewblog1)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Adam Lambert Dance Party

During the Purple One's concerts, he brings people on the floor to come up on stage for a little dance party during one of his numbers. Loads of celebrities from the VIP section have been on stage; last Saturday, it was Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy. This week, Adam Lambert and Nicole Scherzinger joined the party.

Here's a little dance-cam video of Adam, Nicole and others dancing on stage:



And I will say this again (for the umpteenth time) ... if you are in Southern California, GO SEE this dude in concert. He's about halfway done with his 21-night stand in LA, and you are missing out if you haven't gone already. Tickets are as low as $25, and a good amount of those $25 seats are in really good locations. Shows are on Thursday-Friday-Saturday. Opening acts are stellar (tonight's was Esperanza Spalding), and surprise guest performances are abundant (Nicole Scherzinger and Sheila E. tonight, Whitney Houston on Thursday).

Friday, May 06, 2011

Video Of The Day: Whitney Houston Sings With Chaka Khan

More big-name guests showed up at Prince's concert Thursday night at the Forum. Whitney Houston joined opening artist Chaka Khan onstage during her set, and the two divas sang Chaka's hit "Tell Me Something Good." Whitney also joined Prince onstage during his set later in the show.

Here's video of her duet with Chaka:



(Video by gidget22)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Video Of The Day: Cassandra Wilson Duet

The purple one (Pr*nce) sang with Cassandra Wilson doing a surprise duet during her opening set at his concert last Thursday. They sang "When We're Dancing Close And Slow", from his self-titled album.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

AI10 Top 5 - Big Changes From Then To Now

This week, the American Idol Top 5 sang songs from then and now, doing one current song and one song from the 60's. The then and now theme could apply to the standings of the five contestants as well. At the start of this season, it was clear that the show's favorites were Lauren Alaina and Jacob Lusk. That was then ... this is now. While the judges may still favor Lauren, her star has lost its luster, and it's pretty obvious that the judges and the show have had about enough of Jacob. Meanwhile, James Durbin has emerged as THE judges' favorite (they turn the other cheek when he sings poorly .... ahem, Randy Jackson. Note the correct way to use that term). I suspect that Scotty McCreery has been holding the lions share of votes since the semifinals, and Haley Reinhart has steadily been picking up votes week to week and especially now after her performance to close the show.

James Durbin - "Closer To The Edge" by 30 Seconds To Mars
The extreme pimping of Mr. Durbin has now extended to Sheryl Crow too, I see. And please. If singing with James Durbin is your idea of the ultimate, maybe you really SHOULD retire, Sheryl Crow. James' lower register is super-weak, and he wasn't quite hitting all the right notes. And so much grossness from that sleeveless top. DNW to see pit hairs like that while I'm eating.

Jacob Lusk - "No Air" by Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown
I wish Jacob had run out of air and passed out during the performance so we didn't have to be subjected to that horrific dancing. Hip thrusts and possible crotch grab during a Jordin Sparks song? NO. And his voice doesn't work on this song. Randy's right - that isn't him. And LOL OOPS, JLo clearly doesn't see him in the finale.

Lauren Alaina - "Flat On The Floor" by Carrie Underwood
I guess if Lauren was going to do Carrie-Okie karaoke, it's good she picked a song that wasn't a massive hit like "Before He Cheats". Honestly, Lauren didn't bring ANYTHING new to that song, unless new = inferior vocals.

Scotty McCreery - "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry
It was a little bit corny, but it did kind of feel like a concert performance more than an Idol performance (I mean, country music performances can be kind of corny like that). Scotty really does know how the work the stage.

Haley Reinhart - "You And I" by Lady Gaga
Jimmy suggested this unreleased Lady Gaga song to Haley. INTERESTING. He may be the only person on this show in Haley's corner (or he's trying to sabotage her). I have never heard this song in my life (I wish she had done "Speechless" instead, to be honest), so I have no idea how it's supposed to sound, but to me, Haley sounded fantastic from a vocal-standpoint. It's too bad the song sucked.

James Durbin - "Without You" by Harry Nilsson
James get an extended pimp package here with sob story #240. This is not the audition rounds, producers! The first verse was lovely and vulnerable, and then he started wailing/crying, and it became a big pile of DNW. Just like last week. The judges basically saying it wasn't a good vocal but it doesn't matter because he cried! Ummmm .... In his post-critique chat with Ryan, James said of his performance, "I delivered." Stay humble there, James. Because you really weren't as good as you think you were.

Jacob Lusk - "Love Hurts" by Nazareth
More ~recommendations from Jimmy Iovine. When will the kids realize that his ideas SUCK? Also lol singing this song with a harp. Could you BE any more old-fashioned, Jacob? And more judge-speak: You effed up in the middle of the song, but you brought out the high notes (NO, Randy, that was NOT a Mariah note. Nor was it pleasing on my ears!) so that doesn't matter!

Lauren Alaina - "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers
I really can't stand this song, to be honest. Lauren needs to lay off the fake bake. It's SO distracting, especially with a song this boring and drawn out. She really could have done so much more with this song vocally, but she pussed out on the high notes.

Scotty McCreery - "Always On My Mind" by Elvis Presley
He had a little bit of trouble with the super-low notes early in the song, but I like when Scotty shows tender moments with the dawg. But maybe it was too soon after last week's performance. But whatever - he has now had two grandma moments on this show. He has this in the bag.

Haley Reinhart - "House Of The Rising Sun" by The Animals
Oooh good suggestion from Sheryl Crow to go a cappella. That was gorgeous. And, unlike James last week, Haley actually did something cool with the song even when the band kicked in. She took it to another gear and went flat-out sultry and sexy. LOVED IT.

Rankings for the night:
Haley

Scotty

(BIG GAP)

Lauren

(BIGGER GAP)

Jacob/James

Bottom 2 predictions: Jacob, Lauren
Going home: Jacob

Video Of The Day: David Cook Time Marches On

David Cook debuted two new songs from his upcoming album This Loud Morning at a concert in Washington, DC on Friday evening. My favorite of the new songs is "Time Marches On", which David co-wrote with Marti Frederiksen.



(video by zAnodyne)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Voice Slips In Week 2

After a really strong opening show, the second week of blind auditions on The Voice did not quite live up to the hype. I've always thought that singing competition shows lived and died on the talent, and today's The Voice episode supported that theory. There were a bunch of questionable choices and quite a few voices who likely never would have gotten through if the judges didn't need to fill a quota. So when Adam Levine got an American Idol dig in by saying that lots of singers they say no to could win Idol, I scoffed because they were putting through singers who aren't good enough for even Season 9 of Idol.

Cherie Oakley - Gunpower & Lead by Miranda Lambert (Buy on iTunes)
Cherie was a former backup singer for Carrie Underwood but couldn't get the attention of the judges until Christina at the very end. I do wonder if she'll have trouble getting out of backup mode.
Chosen by: Christina
Mentor: Christina

Devon Barley - I'm Yours by Jason Mraz (Buy on iTunes)
This Kevin Covais look-alike sounds like any random kid singing this song at a high school talent show. I cannot believe he even got picked. And LOL at Christina trying to sabotage Adam by pushing for Devon to pick him.
Chosen by: Cee Lo, Adam
Mentor: Adam

Joshua Scott Hand - Paparazzi by Lady Gaga
I applaud the creativity, but his voice is not good, and he sounds whiny and mumbly.
Chosen by: No one

Raquel Castro - Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis (Buy on iTunes)
Raquel tries to front like she's so young and inexperienced, but she's been in the entertainment business for years. She had a verrrry rough start to the song and was unable to find the key. Once she got into the meat of the song, she sounded much better, but I'm not surprised that Christina was the only one who chose her. She's had a few now in which she was the only one who picked the singer.
Chosen by: Christina
Mentor: Christina

Emily Valentine - Sober by Pink (Buy on iTunes)
As Lyndsey Parker from Yahoo pointed out, Emily Valentine used to be Emily Wynne-Hughes when she made it to the Hollywood round on American Idol. Her voice sounded all kinds of rough, especially on the first verse, and when she tried to belt the word "sober". Maybe she had some U4EA on the way to the audition. That, or she has some smoke inhalation issues after setting the homecoming float on fire.
Chosen by: Blake, Cee Lo
Mentor: Cee Lo

Niki Dawson - Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (Buy on iTunes)
This was one of those Kris Allen blink-and-you-missed-it type of auditions. I think we only heard 8 words come out of her mouth
Chosen by: Cee Lo
Mentor: Cee Lo

Sara Oromchi - Imagine by John Lennon (Buy on iTunes)
Only four words from Sara. Can you say cannon fodder?
Chosen by: Blake
Mentor: Blake

Tim Mahoney - Bring It On Home To Me (Buy on iTunes)
Adam Levine thought he was a female. Or, as he succinctly put it, "Sadly, you have a penis." I don't know what Adam is hearing because he doesn't sound like a woman at all, but the look on his face when he saw the guy was pretty classic.
Chosen by: Adam
Mentor: Adam

Julia Eason - Mercy by Duffy (Buy on iTunes)
This girl doesn't have enough soul to sing this song, and she also has little control over her voice.
Chosen by: Cee Lo, Christina
Mentor: Christina

Angela Wolff - The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert
I love her voice. I can't believe no one picked her! She was better than most of the other girls today.
Chosen by: No one

Tyler Robinson - Hey, Soul Sister by Train (Buy on iTunes)
Is this a stray Warbler? Doesn't he know that Blaine is the only one who can shine from the group? I'd stay far away from that button just on principle for singing this song.
Chosen by: Blake
Mentor: Blake

Nakia - Forget You by Cee Lo (Buy on iTunes)
This is like Casey Abrams all over again with all the growls. NO THANK YOU.
Chosen by: Cee-Lo, Blake
Mentor: Cee Lo

Serabee - Son Of A Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield (Buy on iTunes)
Another drive-by audition piece, but I was not impressed by what I heard.
Chosen by: Blake
Mentor: Blake

Casey Desmond - Born This Way by Lady Gaga (Buy on iTunes)
She seems to have a pretty good voice in the 5 seconds that I heard.
Chosen by: Adam
Mentor: Adam

Justin Grennan - Drops Of Jupiter by Train (Buy on iTunes)
He is the first guy Christina has chosen. LOL. His voice seemed ok enough.
Chosen by: Christina
Mentor: Christina

Dia Frampton - Bubbly by Colbie Caillat (Buy on iTunes)
I'm not sure she was worthy of an immediate button-pushing, but she was my favorite of the day. She she has an interesting voice with interesting phrasing.
Chosen by: Blake, Cee Lo
Mentor: Blake

Curtis Grimes - Hillbilly Bone by Blake Shelton (Buy on iTunes)
This is quite ballsy to sing a song by one of the mentors. He's got a good enough voice, but he seemed to peter out a bit towards the end, energy-wise.
Chosen by: Cee Lo
Mentor: Cee Lo

Tori & Taylor Thompson - Stuck Like Glue by Sugarland (Buy on iTunes)
They were both on American Juniors years ago. As Christina said, it was like listening to a bubble gum commercial. I did dig the harmonies, and they sounded much better than the other duo from last week.
Chosen by: Cee Lo
Mentor: Cee Lo

Second shot:

Lily Elise - If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys (Buy on iTunes)
Another not-so-surprising pick by Christina.
Chosen by: Christina

Sonia Rao - Chasing Pavements by Adele
She's not really that great of a singer. The guys just like her looks.
Chosen by: No one

Jared Blake - Not Ready To Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks (Buy on iTunes)
His song choices are so unusual - Cobra Starship and Dixie Chicks?! Jigga what?!
Chosen by: Blake

Casey Weston - Stupid Boy by Keith Urban (Buy on iTunes)
She was having a hard time hitting the right notes in the beginning. It was too low for her. And she has a really goaty vibrato.
Chosen by: Adam

Angela Wolff - Rolling In The Deep by Adele (Buy on iTunes)
I don't think this song was suited for her, but I'm really glad she made it onto Adam's team because I loved her in her initial audition.
Chosen by: Adam

The 8-person teams are:

Adam Levine - Jeff Jenkins, Rebecca Loebe, Javier Colon, Casey Desmond, Dev0n Barley, Tim Mahoney, Casey Weston, Angela Wolff

Cee Lo Green - Vicci Martinez, Kelsey Rey, Tje Austin, Nakia, Emily Valentine, Curtis Grimes, Tori and Taylor, Niki Dawson

Christina Aguilera - Tarralyn Ramsey, Frenchie Davis, Beverly McClellan, Cherie Oakley, Julia Eason, Justin Grennan, Raquel Castro, Lily Elise

Blake Shelton - Patrick Thomas, Elenowen, Xenia, Jared Blake, Serabee, Tyler Robinson, Sara Oromchi, Dia Frampton

Video Of The Day: Lady Antebellum Just A Kiss

Lady Antebellum's brand new single "Just A Kiss" was released on iTunes today, and they will be performing the song on the American Idol results show on Thursday. This video here was shot last month in Brisbane during the group's Down Under tour with Keith Urban.



(video by Shannatic)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Video Of The Day: Kris Allen Sings Stand By Me

Kris Allen is on the East Coast for a four-city tour with Berklee City Music/Music Empowers, raising awareness for music education. During his New York stop Monday, he performed a few of his songs with the Berklee City Music Band and also did an impromptu solo version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" that is, in a word, incredible.



The video is from Raise Your Voices, which will be providing coverage from the Berklee City Music/Music Empowers tour. Follow them on Twitter at @RaiseYourVoices.

And to donate to the Music Empowers Foundation in support of music education, visit MusicEmpowersFoundation.org. As someone who took music lessons at the age of 2 and who was in music programs from grade school to high school, I'm all for supporting this cause.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Video Of The Day: Prince, Nikka Costa Cover Whole Lotta Love

Prince is in the midst of a 21-date residency at the Forum and has had many special guests come up to perform with him during his sets, including Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys, and Gwen Stefani. At his latest show on Saturday, Nikka Costa came on to sing Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love".



(video by timmer9)

Also on Saturday, a ton of celebrities came up on stage during his big dance party, including Gwen and some of her No Doubt bandmates, Gavin Rossdale, Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.



(video by 1goodthingaboutmusic)

Prince is such a bad-ass! SoCal people, you need to see this man perform while you can. Tickets are only $25 (with no fees!) in some of the middle sections and all of the upper. The seats are good everywhere. I saw him on Thursday, and he sang till 12:45 am with four encores. It was incredible.

John Mayer, Keith Urban Team Up At Tiger Jam

John Mayer and Keith Urban teamed up in Las Vegas on Saturday night for Tiger Jam, an annual fundraiser concert to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. The two superstars sang their own songs and came together to perform three songs together.

After an enjoyable opening acoustic set by Tyler Hilton (his "Missing You/Everytime You Go Away" mashup was awesome, and he sang a song he co-wrote with Lady Antebellum, Ain't A Thing), John Mayer kicked things off with a countrified version of his first single from Battle Studies, "Who Says". He also changed up the arrangements on "Crossroads" (more rock and with a quicker tempo), "Half Of My Heart" and "Waiting On The World To Change", but kept the original arrangements for "Vultures", "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" and "Gravity". He also did two new songs ("Something Like Olivia" and "Queen of California"). At the end of his set, he brought Keith up to sing a cover of The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek".

Up On Cripple Creek:


Half Of My Heart:


Keith's set started with his first single from his latest album, Get Closer, "Put You In A Song". He also did "Without You", "Long Hot Summer" and "You Gonna Fly" from the new CD. Amongst his classic hits, he sang "You're My Better Half", "Days Go By" and "You Look Good In My Shirt". During "You Look Good In My Shirt", Keith went up into the middle section and sang part of the song up there and then took his guitar, signed it and gave it to someone in the audience before heading back to the stage. AMAZING!

Mayer came back out during Keith's set to sing two of Keith's songs - "Sweet Thing" and "Til Summer Comes Around". I have to say that Mayer sounds killer on "Til Summer Comes Around". I love Keith singing it, but when Mayer came in on his verse, I was floored. And the two of them playing guitar together was being in guitar heaven. They are such amazing musicians. And they looked like they were having so much fun playing together. It was delightful to see.

Sweet Thing:


You're My Better Half:


For more (and better) videos from the show, check out the YouTube pages of cspannie and ocamy24.